Navigating a Relationship with a Possessive Partner

Having a possessive partner can be suffocating, but that doesn't mean the relationship needs to end. Here's how to navigate the situation.
possessive or mean husband

In many ways, love and possessiveness go hand-in-hand. I mean, how many of us gals haven’t checked out a woman we think our man is checking out? While mild jealousy is natural in relationships, what starts out as flattering and sweet can grow into extreme possessiveness, straining the relationship.

A possessive partner is one whose behavior crosses the line from caring to jealous and distrustful. Calling and texting you constantly, tracking you on your phone, and reading your emails is just not okay. And in worst case scenarios, possessiveness can escalate into abuse. It should go without saying that if your partner’s possessiveness begins to impact your well-being and safety, it’s time to get out of there. 

Possessiveness stems from a fear of losing you and is characterized by an excessive need to control your thoughts and actions. This is because control is the only way he can deal with his insecurity.

10 signs that your partner is possessive

  1. He smothers you.
  2. He texts you constantly, always wanting to know where you are and requiring explanations for your every move.
  3. He wants all of your attention, giving you ultimatums or making threats if you don’t make enough time for him.
  4. He wants your passwords and then constantly monitors you by checking your phone, emails, and social media accounts.
  5. He tries to control how you dress or makes comments if he feels you are wearing something “inappropriate” because he doesn’t want you to attract other men. 
  6. He’s unreasonably jealous over your interactions with other people, even harmless ones, especially with men.
  7. He accuses you of infidelity without evidence.
  8. He makes decisions for you, disregarding your opinions, wants, and needs.
  9. He tries to keep you away from your friends.
  10. He gets annoyed when you make your own plans.

Addressing possessiveness requires a commitment to resolving the underlying issues. The following is a roadmap for navigating this challenging situation.

Navigating the Situation

Be empathetic.

couple having a conversation

Give your partner the opportunity to share his side of the story. Listen attentively to his concerns and fears, even if they seem irrational to you.  Understanding his position is essential to finding common ground. 

Tell him how you feel.

Transparency is one of the best ways to deal with a possessive partner, and communication is key to achieving it. It’s time to have an honest conversation about the issue. Sit down and talk with your man when both of you are getting along. Tell him you feel he is overly possessive, and it’s making you uncomfortable. He may not know he’s doing it so give him specific examples. 

Stay composed as you express your feelings and avoid blaming or accusing language, using “I” statements as opposed to “you.” Ask why he feels the need to be possessive, but don’t push. And if he points out something that you do that makes him feel insecure, don’t get defensive or, God forbid, yell. Heated arguments will not be good for either of you. Instead, take a deep breath and try to calmly talk things through, accepting responsibility for your actions when needed. Then, establish clear boundaries regarding privacy, social interactions, and personal space, emphasizing that they are essential to the health of the relationship and the well-being of each of you.

Take him out with your friends.

friends out having drinks; party; celebration

While it’s important to make it clear that you need time with your friends, involving your partner in some of your plans with them can help him feel more comfortable about your life outside of him. Try to occasionally invite him when you go out with them – especially your male friends. This will allow him to meet them and learn that they are not a threat to your relationship.

Model healthy behavior.

If possessiveness was triggered by past betrayals or traumas, rebuilding trust is essential. This requires consistent effort, understanding, and patience from both partners. Just as you trust him, he should be able to trust you. Demonstrate healthy interactions within the relationship. Display confidence, respect, and individuality while maintaining a strong emotional connection. These are the cornerstones of a successful relationship.

Give things time.

All of your problems won’t disappear overnight. Be patient. It might take a bit for him to overcome his insecurities. Being there for him will help curb his jealousy and help you both on what could be a long emotional journey. 

Seek professional help.

Couple in counseling session

Many issues with insecurity and possessiveness go back to childhood. Past emotional baggage from your partner’s life can be the source of insecurity and negative feelings but can be sorted through if both of you work together on resolving them. Getting to the root of the problem can help him recognize the changes he needs to make. If the possessiveness is deeply ingrained, couples counseling or individual therapy for both of you can be super helpful. A therapist can guide you through the process of uncovering underlying issues, developing healthy coping mechanisms, and negotiating some rules for your relationship.

Shore him up and celebrate progress.

Possessiveness comes from a place of fear of losing you. Reassure him that this isn’t the case. Give him some extra physical affection. Verbal affirmations are also a powerful way to reassure your partner. A simple “I love you” can go miles. Encourage your man to work on his self-esteem and self-worth. Suggest activities and hobbies that will help him develop a sense of independence and accomplishment. And whenever he shows he’s on the right track, show him some appreciation. Acknowledging and celebrating each step of progress is positive reinforcement that can motivate further change.

Most importantly, know that you’re doing nothing wrong. Your partner’s possessiveness is about him, not you. But remember that positive change is possible with dedication, communication, and the right resources. Both partners must be willing to work on themselves and the relationship to create a healthy and thriving partnership. If possessiveness is addressed head-on and transformed into open communication, mutual respect, and trust, the relationship can evolve into a strong and more fulfilling bond for both of you.

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